By Ken Reed
California legislators recently introduced a bill that would ban tackle football before high school.
The bill, called the “Safe Youth Football Act,” will be considered this year by state lawmakers.
“The science is clear: head injuries sustained at a young age can harm kids for the rest of their lives,” Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) said in a statement.
“Developing skills through flag football before high school is sound public policy from a health and safety standpoint.”
Editorials in the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, and the San Diego Union Tribune have all supported the bill.
However, as expected, a lot of opposition to the bill has also surfaced.
A group called SaveCaliforniaFootball quickly formed when news of the bill came out. Moreover, an online petition opposing the bill collected more than 30,000 signatures in a little more than three days.
These opponents might be facing a losing battle, however.
A recent poll revealed that four out of five adults in the United States believe tackle football is not appropriate for children under age 14.
The Concussion Legacy Foundation “strongly recommends” that parents delay signing up their children to play tackle football until at least age 14. The Foundation says head impacts are more dangerous for children than they are for adults for two reasons: 1) children under the age of 14 have brains that undergo dramatic changes and maturation; and 2) the bobblehead effect; children have smaller, weaker necks and “proportionally giant, heavy heads,” a combination that leads to a whiplash effect upon impact.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach and Broadcaster John Madden agrees with the move away from tackle football for youth players.
“They don’t need a helmet,” says Madden.
“They can play flag football. And with flag football you can get all the techniques. Why do we have to start with a 6-year-old who was just potty trained a year ago and put a helmet on him and tackle?”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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